Why Taking Risks is a Secret to Success

Whether starting a new business or learning to lean in at their corporate workplace, women are taking risks every day to achieve success. But fear of the unknown can hold you back. Four successful women share why getting beyond fear--or harnessing it--and taking risks is a powerful tool for success in your career.

Lisa Price, founder of the natural beauty product line, Carol's Daughter, is more afraid of not knowing where her ideas could take her. Her fear inspires inspires her to take risks. "I feel like if you do something that's really hard, that you're afraid one of two things is going happen," she explained. "You're going to bomb and then you'll recover. Or you're going to do it well and everything will be okay. But if you don't do it, forever and ever amen, you're going be like well, what if I had? Well, what if I had? And that's worse. That has no end. So I'm more afraid of, 'what if?'"

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When Confetti Cakes owner Elissa Strauss was debating whether or not she should try her hand in the cake world, she said she received the best advice from her friend in pastry school. She explained the he said, "Try it because if you don't try it, then how will you ever know?'" Her friends' words of wisdom prevailed and her designs and cakes have appeared in numerous magazines and television shows.

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Mae Jemison, the first female African-American to go into space, believes that women are risk averse by nature but need to learn that taking risks is a form of empowerment. She said that true empowerment involves three key points. "The first one is to believe that you have something to contribute," she said. "Then you have to be willing to take the risk to contribute it, right? And then thirdly, you just have to do it. If you don't do those things then you're not empowered."

Like Price, Dori Howard, the founder of Milk and Honey Shoes, thinks it's more important to try something and potentially fail then to not take a risk. "You're never stuck in a job you hate," she said. "It's the scariest thing in the world to leave the security of a big company, to leave the security of a paycheck. You can either decide that you're going to live the life, you know, live a fine life, or you can decide that you're going to live an amazing life. And you don't always succeed at living that amazing life. But I'd rather go for it and fail, than not go for it at all"

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